Lord Of Illusions (1995)

Day 12 already? October, and #31DaysOfHorror has certainly been clipping along quickly. If you want to share your movies with me, please do so in the comments or on Instagram with the tag #BarleyDoesHorror ! What have you been watching and enjoying this month? Any new favorites surface? Well, on with it then.

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After my delightful discovery of “Nightbred” yesterday, I had to know if Barker had attatched his directorial powers to any other films, having seen and loved 2, I thought it was only fitting to check out the third. Clive Barker’s Lord Of Illusion. A movie that IMDB describes as :

During a routine case in L.A., NY private investigator Harry D’Amour stumbles over members of a fanatic cult, who are waiting for the resurrection of their leader Nix. 13 years ago, Nix was calmed down by his best trainee Swann. In the meantime Swann is advanced to a popular illusionist like David Copperfield and is married to the charming Dorothea. She hires D’Amour to protect Swann against the evil cult members. A short time later Swann is killed by one of his own tricks and the occurrences are turning over, and it crackles between Dorothea and D’Amour.

This movie is so deligtfully 90s, and so delightfully Barker, it’s insane. There is somethign really full and beautiful about the worlds that Clive Barker creates in his movies. Hellraiser, Nightbreed and Lord Of Illusion all have these really fantastic worlds that really do draw you in. They may seem dated or silly now, but they really are just wonderful to look at and so few horror movies really bother to build the world. Besides, it’s easier to throw a scary mask on someone and let them loose in a suburban neighbourhood anyways. Not that I have a problem with those movies either, it’s just really nice to see this every now and again… unfortunately it seems like with the exception of films like Pan’s Labyrinth those movies are pretty rare.

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The movie is really well cast, and there are a lot of really wonderful characters in the flick, beginning to end, no one comes off as terrible or unlikable. Perhaps a little mid-90s cheeseball at times, but it really works in the way that you want it to. Most notable, in my opinion, is Daniel Von Bargen (Silence Of The Lambs) in his very brief role as Nix. It’s really great to see a mid 90s Bargen in this, and he’s got just as much charisma as you would expect from his Buffalo Bill  character. We also have some great appearances from Scott Bakula (American Beauty), Kevin J. O’Connor (There Will Be Blood), and Famke Janssen (House On Haunted Hill) who normally I really can’t stand. Plus, a super brief performance from Vincent Schiavelli (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) that was a bunch of fun. The casting in this movie worked for me on every level, and had all of the cheeseball acting I could possible want.

On top of that, the movie is actually pretty interesting. Sure, at times, it suffers from a bit of silly-plot-syndrome, but I really don’t hold it against the movie at all. It’s not overly complicated, but still manages to effectively flesh out the story and characters. It’s a bit longer than Nightbreed or Hellraiser, but it does feel like Barker was finally able to do what he wanted this time around. Though, considering that there are no more directorial credits to his name, it’s hard to imagine that went especially well for him in the end, which really is too bad because I would have loved to see what he could produce after this.

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Considering the movie is 20 years old, it’s actually aged pretty well in the effects department. In fact, the movie pulls of moments that are downright scary, and some pretty gruesome moments. The last scene between Nix and Dorthea is pretty creepy in a big way, and the movie did creep me out more than once, in pretty substantial ways. Coupled with the fun cast, and the very enjoyable story, and you’ve got yourself a damn good horror movie.

So, this one has joined the ranks of my favorites, and I really have to recommend this. Particularly if you’re a fan of Nightbreed and Hellraiser, and haven’t gotten around to this one yet. Admittedly it’s a hole in my horror movie history that I am really glad to have filled. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you like a movie with a healthy balance of silly and scary, and if you love yourself a little Clive Barker. I mean, who doesn’t?

FINAL GRADE : A- 

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